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Elk County residents proud of their namesake animal

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 10:00 a.m.
 

ELK COUNTY — It's almost impossible to find a cell phone signal in the heart of Pennsylvania's elk country, and I'm quite certain the elk prefer it that way. I get the feeling the people who live here like it, too.

This fall, as the elk begin ratcheting up activity during peak rutting season, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is commemorating its 100th anniversary to restore the state's elk population.

Historically, elk were plentiful in the Northeast, but by the late 1800s, Pennsylvania's herds had been decimated. Legions of elk were depleted for nearly 50 years until the game commission reintroduced the species. From 1913 to 1926, 177 elk were released into the wild. Their descendants thrive today because of the relentless conservation of habitat and people's willingness to protect the elk.

Locals seem to warmly tolerate the attention this time of the year brings. Visitors clamor, mostly on the weekends, to catch a glimpse of a large bull bugling as he saunters through a luminous field of goldenrod. Each echoing trumpet is a signal to females that seek the loudest, most persistent males. Witnessing the elk strive to perpetuate their species reveals the complex and enduring connection the elk have with this land.

So if you find yourself visiting Elk County, follow some simple advice: Don't worry about your cell phone, keep a safe distance and appreciate an unforgettable look into the wilds of Pennsylvania that stretches back hundreds of years.

Sean Stipp is a photographer for Trib Total Media.

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A young bull crosses Trout Run, a small creek in Benezette Township, Elk County, while grazing in the late morning.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A young bull crosses Trout Run, a small creek in Benezette Township, Elk County, while grazing in the late morning.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - Seasonal colors illuminate the background while a bull grazes in the state game lands in Benezette Township, Elk County. The rut, or mating season, occurs in September and October.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Seasonal colors illuminate the background while a bull grazes in the state game lands in Benezette Township, Elk County. The rut, or mating season, occurs in September and October.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A bull grazes in the early morning fog on Sept. 26, 2013. Typically the animals feed during the morning and in the evening. The conservation and management of habitat for grazing has been crucial to to restoring elk to Pennsylvania.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A bull grazes in the early morning fog on Sept. 26, 2013. Typically the animals feed during the morning and in the evening. The conservation and management of habitat for grazing has been crucial to to restoring elk to Pennsylvania.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A bull herds his cows in a forest at the state game lands in Benezette Township on Sept. 26, 2013, during the rut, which is mating season. The rut occurs in September and October.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A bull herds his cows in a forest at the state game lands in Benezette Township on Sept. 26, 2013, during the rut, which is mating season. The rut occurs in September and October.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - The sun sets as a large bull grazes on Winslow Hill. Typically, elk are most active at dawn and dusk.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The sun sets as a large bull grazes on Winslow Hill. Typically, elk are most active at dawn and dusk.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - Antlers are silhouetted against the setting sun on Winslow Hill, Benezette Township, Elk County.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Antlers are silhouetted against the setting sun on Winslow Hill, Benezette Township, Elk County.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A calf grazes in a field near Winslow Hill, Benezette Township, Elk County.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A calf grazes in a field near Winslow Hill, Benezette Township, Elk County.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A bull and a cow interact while grazing during the late afternoon.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A bull and a cow interact while grazing during the late afternoon.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - Two young bulls lock antlers during a playful sparing match in the early evening on Oct. 2, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Two young bulls lock antlers during a playful sparing match in the early evening on Oct. 2, 2013.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A large bull rests in a field after grazing on Winslow Hill. Typically, elk are most active at dawn and dusk.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A large bull rests in a field after grazing on Winslow Hill. Typically, elk are most active at dawn and dusk.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - A bull directs his bugle to attract fertile cows or toward other bulls to demonstrate his power.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A bull directs his bugle to attract fertile cows or toward other bulls to demonstrate his power.
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